Starve a Vampire. Donate Blood.

(Just kidding, we don’t mean you.)

My place of work seems to have an awful lot of blood drives. Where I hail from, you go to the Red Cross (which is capitalizing on the current vampire craze with the cute “Starve a Vampire. Donate Blood” campaign) to give up your precious bodily fluids. For reasons I don’t understand, that doesn’t work around here; the local blood collection entity is Bonfils Blood Center. Bonfils hasn’t latched on to the vampire angle yet.

So I’m wandering past a bunch of notices at work, and this text catches my eye:

Bonfils Blood Center
Ambulatory Aid
For their own safety, donors using any sort of temporary ambulatory aid including crutches/walking aids, a soft or hard cast, carpel tunnel brace or sling for a recent injury cannot donate until no longer requiring this assistance. Donors using permanent ambulatory aid may be pre-approved to donate by contacting Bonfils’ Donor Relations department at 303.363.2202 or 800.365.0006, opt. 1. Unfortunately, mobile bus programs are unable to accommodate those with walking aides.

Eligibility – Bonfils Blood Center

“For their own safety”?

I’m inclined to believe that Bonfils has misspelled, “Because we haven’t managed to think this through”. Let’s try to help. I can think of two reasons Bonfils might be leery of potential donors who use mobility aids:

  1. Inaccessible facilities
  2. Fear that the mobility aid signals some condition that contraindicates donation

If the former, well, that’s just…illegal. And unfriendly. And unwelcoming.

If the latter, why wouldn’t the normal screening process pinpoint the contraindication?

And who classifies “slings” and “carpel tunnel braces” as “ambulatory aids”, anyway?

Maybe the Red Cross has equally lazy policies; all I could find on their website was a feel-good disability bingo article about a disabled donor (Red Cross Donor Undeterred By Disability).



  1. Julie Scott

    We appreciate your thoughts on the aforementioned eligibility requirement. The policy exists strictly for the donor’s safety. If a person on crutches, for example, were to experience a post donation reaction that caused a fall, it may cause more damage to the the donor’s injury. Therefore, it’s in the donor’s best interest to postpone a life-saving blood donation until he/she has fully recovered from the injury. Those using permanent ambulatory aids may contact our Donor Relations department at 303.363.2202 to discuss donation options.

  2. che koala

    Oh that old chestnut: if in doubt, leave them out.

  3. Katja

    Julie, thank you for commenting. I encourage Bonfils to give this policy some further thought.

    I think your ‘post donation reaction causing a fall’ scenario can still be covered by adequate screening (“have you been injured recently?” “are you prone to fainting?”) rather than by a blanket prohibition of a whole class of people, most whom probably are not at any more risk of falling in your facility than they are at the grocery store or at the bank.

    The policy feels poorly thought out and discriminatory. It discourages a large group of people from even considering donation.

  4. Kimberly

    A carpal tunnel brace? Honestly? It is a self-applied, removable positioning device to stabilize the wrist and minimize stress to the carpal tunnel ligament.

    Wow, if I ever need blood I will hope the blood bank didn’t turn away anyone with carpal tunnel syndrome.

  5. Gene

    This is clearly a result of the litigious society. They are obviously afraid of being sued in case someone with a crutch were to fall. I would think, however, simply asking the person using a mobility device to sign a waiver would do the trick.

  6. Wheelchair Bling

    In their defense, it’s not uncommon for people to faint during/after giving blood. I did it myself when I was young and healthy; I walked uphill in the summer heat after donating and passed right out on the ground – twice (I was stubborn!) It sounds funny, but I was lucky not to be run over.

    Though on the other hand, I suppose a person in a wheelchair is in a position to faint more conveniently…


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